Mary Wilson, Co-Founder of the Supremes, Dies at 76

Diana Ross, right, is shown with the original ‘Supremes,’ from left, Cindy Birdsong and Mary Wilson, in this April 20,1970.

Without them, the history of soul and black music in general would probably not have been the same: we are talking about the Supremes, a trio that was decisive in the early 1960s for the take-off of the genre. Which come back to the fore with the death of Mary Wilson, who suddenly disappeared in Las Vegas at the age of 76: she was the one who founded the combo together with Florence Ballard and Diana Ross. When the latter gave up her associates in 1970 to take the path of a solo career (and then triumph over it), Mary would have been the only one to still believe in the strength of the Supremes, when even Florence, after being sent away in 1967, she would die of depression and barbiturates in 1976. The triumph Taking a step back, with Florence Ballard, Mary founded the Primettes at just 15 years old, right in Detroit and right with Motown: with the arrival of Diana Ross and the renaming to Supremes, the legendary record company of Berry Gordy would have stood out the flight to become the black music mecca for years to come. Already, the Supremes would have stamped the top spot on the American singles charts twelve times, also becoming the first all-female group to take the lead with a “Supremes A ‘Go” album in 1966, ousting none other than the Beatles. by Revolver. And thus arriving to conquer even white audiences. The decline Then the decline would come, determined by the change in taste, but also by the desire of Gordy himself to bet everything, alone, on Diana Ross. If Florence would later die, Mary would have persisted in going forward even at the cost of going against Motown itself. And after the definitive end of the Supremes, in 1977, Mary’s solo career would never fully take off (just two albums), even though she would always enjoy the respect of the star system. Because without her and the other two, black music would have been confined to the ghetto forever.

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